Saturday, December 3, 2022
Dec. 3, 2022

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Men killed in Vancouver murder-suicide, fire identified by Clark County Medical Examiner

By , Columbian staff writer

Two Vancouver men, a 55-year-old and a 74-year-old, were identified Monday as the people found dead in a June 25 apartment fire that’s under investigation as a murder-suicide.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Christopher Berg, 55, died from multiple gunshot wounds and said in a news release that he was shot by another person at his home. His death was ruled a homicide. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

The other man is identified at Henry Oates Jr., 74. The Medical Examiner’s Office said his cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and ruled his death a suicide.

The Vancouver Police Department previously said there are no outstanding suspects.

Police were dispatched at about 12:30 a.m. on a Saturday to 2904 E. 16th St., Unit B, in the Maplewood neighborhood, after several callers reported hearing gunshots.

A downstairs neighbor said she believed the shooting occurred in Unit B. The 911 dispatcher heard what she believed were additional gunshots while taking the call.

The neighbor then reported smoke coming from the unit, and she said she and her boyfriend were evacuating their apartment, according to a search warrant affidavit filed last month.

The Vancouver Fire Department arrived within minutes to find heavy smoke coming from the front and back of the second-floor unit, and a second alarm was requested.

Crews extinguished the fire within 30 minutes, but three other families who lived in the apartment building were displaced.

While extinguishing the blaze, firefighters found a man dead in the living room and another man dead in a rear bedroom, the affidavit states.

Fire personnel said it appeared both men had suffered gunshot wounds to the head. A firearm was located near the body in the bedroom, according to the affidavit.

A caretaker for the unit’s primary occupant told investigators she saw him about two hours before the fire. She said the man had been subleasing a bedroom for about six months to a roommate, who potentially had mental health issues.

The client recently told her his roommate had become threatening toward him and talked about killing people, the affidavit says.

She said the two men “had been arguing more lately and indicated that the roommate relationship had deteriorated greatly over the last few days,” the affidavit reads.

UPDATE: Christopher Berg’s family has created a GoFundMe for his funeral arrangements and final expenses.